Legislation Would Remove Barriers to Addiction Intervention

BOSTON –State Senator Nick Collins testified last week on a piece of legislation, S.866, An Act Relative to Saving Lives, designed to save lives by amending Section 35 to allow for those suffering from addiction to be committed to a public health facility by a justice of the court even though the court may be closed for business. 

As it stands, individuals who are suffering from a substance use disorder who present a likelihood of serious harm can be involuntarily committed for treatment for up to 90 days, pending a petition from a police officer, physician, spouse, blood relative, guardian, or court official, and a court hearing. However, that process is only available when the court is open for business, eight hours a day, five days a week. That means that for 75% of the hours in a week, this life saving intervention is not available. 

“As the opioid abuse epidemic continues to affect individuals and families from all corners of the State, it is imperative that we are exploring all options to save lives and get people on the road to recovery” said State Senator Nick Collins. “Addiction does not care what time of day it is, or what day of the week it is. Our intervention options and treatment services should never be closed for business. It is a matter of life and death.”

This language of this bill was previously passed in the Massachusetts State Senate by a vote of 33-4 as part of a 2018 debate on substance abuse. The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will now consider the issue.